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Five quick tips for creating a successful resume

Mel Beasley, Contributing Writer

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The task of searching for a job looms heavy over UNC Wilmington students nearing their graduation. The idea of developing a successful resume, without clear direction, can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there are numerous resources available to all students about to set out on the job hunt. Here are five key pointers students can employ in their cover letters and resumes, which can lead to landing a career position in their desired field.

1. MAKE YOURSELF AN EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONAL. Though a degree is often a requirement for employers, it is not always enough. Many employers are interested in candidates who already have some experience so they don’t have to spend time training that person. Thom Rakes, the Career Center Director for UNCW, recommends that students seek out specific internships related to their field so that they can develop the experience employers want. “If you have this internship, this practicum, this field experience, this volunteer work where you’ve actually done these things, then I am more likely to believe you really can,” says Rakes. Regardless of whether a student’s major requires an internship, it is advised that he or she do one anyway.

2. HIGHLIGHT SPECIFIC SKILLS THE EMPLOYER WANTS. Students who lack direct experience in their field can still create an attractive resume by highlighting similar skills, matching them to those listed in the job ad. Amanda Coyne, a professional writing professor for the UNCW English Department, recommends that students draw connections from the experience they have already. “List relevant coursework, internships and extra-curricular activities and describe them in a way that mirrors what the employer is looking for,” says Coyne.

3. CHECK GRAMMAR AND USE SIMPLE FORMATTING. A resume is a writing sample that reflects a student’s skills and professionalism, says Rakes. Spelling and grammar mistakes are a quick way to make an employer turn the other way. Therefore, it is important to avoid these errors at all costs. In addition, it is courteous to value the employer’s time by keeping these documents to a single page with a simple, easy-to-read format.

4. LIST THE STRONGEST SKILLS FIRST. Students with limited experience should list their strongest skills first to immediately grab the employer’s attention. “It’s important to focus not on why the job would be good for you, but why you’d be great for the job,” says Coyne. List skills that are most applicable to the employer. If coursework is the strongest area on the resume, students should list this first and go into detail about what each class covered.

5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ONLINE CAREER PROFILES. Many employers proactively search for candidates via online professional sites such as Linkedin™. “Try to infuse yourself into a network with other people who are doing things you would like to do,” says Rakes. Online listservs or professional social media sites like Linkedin™ provide connections which may lead to a job in the future.

For further guidance on developing a cover letter or resume, visit the UNCW Career Center located in the Fisher University Union on campus. It is recommended that students at least have a first draft before visiting the center, so check out their website for help.

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Five quick tips for creating a successful resume